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LautelGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 21-Jan-15 17:47:01

Digital Champion Keith Paterson talks getting inspired to get online

Keith Paterson MBE, 83, from Newmarket, is an AgeUK Digital Champion and is helping to inspire and support other older people to get online. If you or someone you know is helping others to get online, find out how you can nominate them (or yourself!) for AgeUK's Digital Champion of the year. Find more information on the the AgeUK website.

Keith Paterson

Digital Champion Keith Paterson talks getting inspired to get online

Posted on: Wed 21-Jan-15 17:47:00


Lead photo

Keith Paterson, MBE has been working with computers since 1981.

I was pleased to receive an MBE this year for my voluntary work in helping older people tackle new technology, in particular computers, which I have been using since 1981.

I was Area Careers Officer in Cambridge from 1967. My first computer was an original IBM PC and I took an Open University degree to learn IT skills. I was then tasked with introducing computers to all the Careers Offices throughout the County, hence I spent a lot of time training staff. I have continued to train people to use the internet since retiring in 1988 as I believe that it is very important - especially for older people, who can benefit enormously from having digital skills.

In 2012 I was honoured to be voted joint AgeUK Internet Champion and later nominated as a Digital Leader by Go ON UK at their National Digital Conference 2012. I have also been invited to meet Samantha Cameron at No 10.

I do not have to convince followers of Gransnet of the importance of computing for so many things, not least to avoid loneliness by enabling people to get in touch with friends and family, wherever they are, via email or visually via programmes such as Skype. It is especially vital to people who are housebound, enabling them to retain their independence. Ordering shopping and having it delivered is just one of many advantages.

Recently, the development of tablet computers has made it easier for many more people to get online.

Since retiring I have become very deaf. For me, computing is my main means of communication - although I get by at a personal level because I have a cochlear implant. I have a whole page on coping with deafness on my website. I also offer free email help with computer problems. I do not have all the answers (who does?) but can usually find them and get back to people within 24 hours.

Recently, the development of tablet computers has made it easier for many more people to get online. They are so much more intuitive to use than previous computers, and so much more convenient being very portable and lacking the tangle of cables associated with desktop PCs. I haven’t done it but would love to fill an iPad with photographs familiar to someone whose memory span is measured in seconds and let them flick through. That should be available in all care homes!

In 1999 I developed a website. It now contains over 50 pages of information and it offers free email help on personal computing. Then, in 2000 I wrote Hints and Tips for Silver Surfers. I still keep in touch with many of those who purchased the book and send them regular computing tips.

Some years ago I volunteered for the Ability Net IT CAN HELP scheme which offers free one-to-one IT support for local disabled people. I intend to keep on computing until the end and hopefully be able to help many more people with this unique technology.

There are many older people who are ‘champions’ for embracing technology and who can be an inspiration to others. If that’s you or someone you know, send in a nomination to AgeUK to become their next Digital Champion and help encourage those yet to get online to give it a try!

People aged 55+ can nominate themselves or be nominated. More information about entering can be found on the AgeUK website. The competition closes 30 January 2015. The awards will be presented on Friday, 20 March at a ceremony in London.

By Keith Paterson

Twitter: @GNSuffolk